Horse racing fans looking for a few top-notch Grade 1 stakes races to bet on this weekend will have their choice of events at such fabled tracks as Belmont Park in New York and San Anita Park in California. Overall, it should be a great weekend of horse racing from coast to coast.
While many horse racing fans are still basking in the excitement of American Pharoah’s dramatic run to horse racing immortality in this season’s Triple Crown racing season, the summer’s list of major stakes races really starts to heat up with a number of high-dollar prize purses at tracks from Belmont Park on the East Coast to Santa Anita Park out on the West Coast. The following is a breakdown of two of the biggest events at these two tracks on this Saturday’s race card.
The Mother Goose Stakes- Belmont Park
This Grade 1 stakes race for three-year old fillies will be contested at Belmont Park this Saturday on dirt over a distance of 1 1/8 miles. The total prize purse for this year’s event has been set at $300,000.
The field for Saturday’s race is starting to take shape with eight horses currently listed as probable. One horse to watch in this race before placing your sports picks, is Include Betty. Trained by Thomas Proctor, this filly will look to build off of her second-place finish in this year’s Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico on May 15th. This followed a disappointing eighth-place finish in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs after winning the Grade 3 Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park in early April.
Also look for Money’soncharlotte to possibly make a run for the Winner’s Circle on Saturday. She is coming off a 13th-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks, but going back over her previous five races, she finished in the money four times including a victory at Belmont in an allowance race as a juvenile. Trained by Kelly Bean, her best effort as a three-year old came in the Grade 2 Gazelle Handicap at Aqueduct on April 4 with a third-place finish.
Some of the other contenders expected to be in the field for this year’s Mother Goose are Pleasant Tales, Chide and Embellish the Lace. Noted trainer Todd Pletcher’s top entry is Eskenformoney. She has finished in the money in five of her last six races including a second-place finish in this year’s Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks on March 28.
The Gold Cup at Santa Anita- Santa Anita Park
This is a Grade 1 stakes race for three-year olds and up will be contested on the turf at Santa Anita over a distance 1 ¼ miles. Formally known as the Hollywood Gold Cup until last year, the total prize purse for this race is $500,000. This race is part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge with the winner securing an automatic spot in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Right now there are eight horses listed as probable for Saturday’s Gold Cup field. One of the horses that caught my eye was Finnegans Wake. Trained by Peter Miller, this six-year old colt has had a long and successful racing career and he appears to be getting better with age. This year alone he has run in five previous graded stakes races and he crossed the finish line first in three of those events. His biggest win came at Churchill Downs in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on May 2. He placed out of the money his last time out with a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap at Belmont earlier this month.
Another horse high on my list for Saturday’s race is Bob Baffert’s Hoppertunity. Baffert has already struck gold this season as American Pharoah’s trainer and he has high expectations for this four-year old colt in this year’s Gold Cup. Hoppertunity started the year hot with victories in both the Grade 2 San Pasquel Stakes and the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes at Santa Anita and in his last race he placed third in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap just two weeks ago at Churchill.
A few of the other expected entries for Saturday’s race include Majestic City, Motown Men and Hard Aces. Majestic City is trained by Ronald Ellis and he is coming off a recent victory in the Grade 3 Lone Star Handicap at Lone Star Park.
Hard Aces ended-up third in the Grade 2 Californian Stakes at Santa Anita on May 30. Both Catch a Flight and Moreno are also expected to run in this year’s Gold Cup after placing first and second in that race.